Step Up Should Become the Next Fast and Furious
I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty sure this is the best idea I’ll ever have. Just know that I’m 100% sincere about everything I’m about to type.
See, I’ve recently been watching the Step Up movies because I like to watch break dancing and I was curious to see what Channing Tatum got up to before he became the biggest thing in Hollywood. The series does not disappoint. It’s formulaic, but the dance scenes are fun and the characters are likeable that’s all the movies need to be entertaining.
At the same time, it feels like the Step Up franchise should be a bigger phenomenon. The premise is utterly ridiculous – Step Up 3D comes from an alternate universe in which creditors accept head spins as currency for mortgage deposits – but after the surprisingly somber first outing, the series begins recycling the same narrative beats to diminishing returns. It always comes down to a choreographed dance battle between two crews, usually on a flat surface in front of a faceless audience.
My point is that Step Up isn’t ridiculous enough. The movies want to play at realism and it prevents them from reaching their full potential. If Step Up wants to break out of its current rut, it needs to double down and embrace the absurdity inherent in its concept. It needs to learn the lessons of another franchise that brought back an A-List star after a surprisingly somber first outing. Step Up needs to become The Fast and the Furious and morph into the next great action franchise.
The genius of the Furious films is that the characters’ interest in cars lends them expertise in a variety of other fields. Being good drivers teaches them to fight, rob police stations, and perform daring stunts at high speeds, which in turn allows them to incorporate all of the chase scenes that make the franchise so much fun while also mixing up the narrative to put those chance scenes in different contexts.
Step Up could easily do the same, tapping into the cast’s athleticism and allowing them to use it for alternative ends. Like the drag races in later Furious films, the dance battles should be the pre-show rather than the main event. It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. In Step Up 3D, Adam Sevani’s Moose bounces off walls and bathroom sinks to escape a rival dance gang and that approach could be expanded. Instead of building to the big dance battle, the crew could to use their magic parkour breakdance skills to sneak into a government vault and become ace martial artists before teaming up with The Rock in the seventh movie to catch another crew when it’s time to return to the straight and narrow.
The rest of the pieces are already in place. Like Fast and Furious, Step Up weaves recurring characters throughout its movies for cameo appearances and many of them display skills that would be useful during more traditional action sequences. Step Up 3D introduces several a tech guys that can build LED dance suits and also (presumably) hack security systems. They’re all broke, so they even have a reason to steal the money.
Of course, Fast and Furious didn’t fully take flight until Vin Diesel returned for number four, so Channing Tatum will have to come back in order for this plan to truly work. That’s the only prerequisite. Step Up might have fewer celebrities, but it’s not like Sung Kang (Han) is a household name and star power can be added later. As long as Tatum is on board to headline the poster, Moose, Andie, Kido, Camille, and the rest of the crew have enough chemistry to carry the ensemble, and fans would love to see old favorites return to save the day in perilous situations.
If they need a ringer, they can always grab Tony Jaa or David Belle, the parkour French guy from Brick Mansions. (Come to think of it, The RZA would be good, too.)
The point is I would absolutely watch a movie about a crew of dancers that use magic parkour skills to rob banks and take down British secret agents that behave like super villains, and you’re lying if you say you wouldn’t do the same, especially if the crew is led by Channing Tatum. He’ll need another showcase for his dance moves now that he’s done with Magic Mike, and I can think of no better use for his considerable talents.
Step Up doesn’t need to incorporate vehicles and explosions, but it does need to double and triple down on the notion that dancing is a practical solution to all of life’s problems, in the most literal sense. It deserves to become the next Fast and Furious, and I can only hope that someone in Hollywood is paying attention.